Airstrike in Gaza dramatically curbs Hamas rocket production, IDF says


An Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip on Saturday drastically reduced the weapons production capabilities of the terror group Hamas, military officials said.

The major strike against the underground Hamas facility came in response to rockets launched from Israel’s southern coastal enclave, which caused no injuries or damage.

The Israel Defense Forces said on Saturday that the targeted facility was “one of the largest and most important sites in the Strip for the production of basic materials for rockets by terrorist groups”, claiming that the attack would significantly hamper the terrorist group’s rocket manufacturing.

Speaking to the Ynet news site on Sunday, military spokesman Ran Kochav said the underground site was also used to manufacture drones.

” In this precise case, [the IDF struck] 16 tons of explosives in an underground drone production hall and facility,” Kochav said.

Without citing a source, Channel 12 news claimed that the missiles used in the strike were GBU-28 bunker busters. The laser-guided weapon, with a payload of 286 kilograms (630 pounds), has the ability to penetrate deep into fortified bunkers.

A view of an explosion caused by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, July 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ali)

The GBU-28 was secretly sold to Israel in 2009 and has since been used in Gaza, primarily against Hamas tunnel systems.

In response to additional rocket fire on Saturday, the army struck another Hamas site, which it said was being used as a weapons production facility.

Kochav added that it was important for the IDF to block Hamas’ rocket capabilities, rather than hit the terror group’s observation posts, which are located along the border with Israel.

“There are 20 or 30 of these posts along the strip, and each time there is a new post…it is more important to hit the Hamas rockets significantly, rather than the posts of observation, which are certainly intrusive, but have no military impact,” he said. .

With the Gaza Strip under a strict blockade by Israel and Egypt for more than 15 years, much of Hamas’ arsenal is made locally, often with smuggled parts and materials.

Masked Hamas operatives march with Qassam rockets through the streets of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, May 27, 2021. (AP/Yousef Masoud)

A Channel 12 report said the site was specifically used to convert so-called dual-use materials, such as agricultural fertilizers, into explosives and rocket fuel.

The report adds that the decision to carry out the strikes on the main facility was made knowing that the price could be a significant escalation, with the rocket attacks seen as an opportunity to decommission the facility.

Still, Kochav said the military believed the attack would not lead to an escalation, and Hamas indicated it was not interested in escalating the situation further.

“We don’t know for sure who fired, but we know who didn’t, and Hamas is quick to say they weren’t behind the rockets on Saturday… they’re deterred,” he said. Kochav.

“This specific event is behind us. I hope we will have a calm summer, but the role of the IDF is to prepare and be ready for defence, attack and intelligence, and not just in Gaza,” he added.

The rocket fire came hours after US President Joe Biden left the country, and soon after he announced a deal that included moves from Riyadh to benefit Israel.

The deal will see the transfer of a pair of Red Sea islands from Egypt to Saudi Arabia – with Israeli approval – and Riyadh, allowing Israeli airlines to fly over its territory en route to Far East. The Saudis are also expected to allow direct charter flights from Israel for Muslim pilgrims.

In 2020, Gaza’s ruling Hamas launched a 13-rocket salvo southward as Israel signed peace agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Biden left Israel earlier Friday after a two-day trip that included meetings with Israeli leaders and a visit to East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

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